Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that on Saturday December 8, 2007 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan he met with the South Pacific Tuna Corporation and FCF, the largest fish trading company in the world, to fully promote efforts to increase the US tuna fishing fleet in American Samoa. The Congressman was on assignment in Asia and concluded his visit by participating in the launching ceremony of the Sea Fox, a new state of the art tuna vessel that will become a part of the US tuna fishing fleet and which will fish in South Pacific waters and supply fish to American Samoa’s canneries.
“I want to especially thank Mr. Dave Burney, CEO and President of the South Pacific Tuna Corporation (SPTC), Mr. Lee Hung-wen, Vice Chairman of the FCF Fishery, and Mr. Hsieh Ta-wen, Director General of the Taiwan Fishery Administration for inviting me to participate in the launching ceremony of the newest purse seine vessel, the ‘Sea Fox’,” Faleomavaega said. “More importantly, I was pleased to discuss American Samoa’s needs and to support SPTC’s efforts to build the US tuna fishing fleet.”
“Taiwan has probably the best tuna boat building capabilities in the world and SPTC is working closing with Taiwan to rebuild the US tuna fishing fleet. The US tuna fishing fleet started off with about 35 vessels from San Diego, which fished out of American Samoa. The fleet has dwindled down to 14 vessels and this raises serious questions about where our canneries are going to get their fish. If there is no fish, there are no canneries,” Faleomavaega said.
“This is why we need boats and this is why I am pleased to be working closely with SPTC, Taiwan’s Ministry of Fisheries, and FCF. Right now, as a result of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty, the US is allowed up to 40 vessels to fish in Pacific waters. We are hopeful that in the next year or two, we will be able to add an additional 10 vessels to our current fleet of 14,” Faleomavaega said.
“Increasing our fleet will also provide job opportunities to American Samoans who may be interested in becoming captains to man these multimillion dollar fishing vessels. This is a golden opportunity for students who may seek careers in this field and who may be interested in applying for possible enrollment as a candidate for the US Merchant Marine Academy.”
“To further protect the jobs of our cannery workers whose livelihood depend on fish being delivered to our canneries, it is necessary that we further develop American Samoa’s fisheries and rebuild the US tuna fishing fleet. I am fully committed to this effort and I again thank the leaders of Taiwan for working with me in this important endeavor.”
“It is my intent to continue discussions with our other regional partners including our South Pacific neighbors. During my meeting with the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders, I encouraged our Pacific Island leaders to also develop their fishing fleets and send their fish to American Samoa’s canneries. I am sure that in due time we can work out an agreement that is beneficial to us all and I am pleased with the progress we have made thus far,” Faleomavaega concluded.